You shouldn’t get to run the country.


There is much ballyhoo over the rise of the Democratic Socialists, a rise whose epicenter was the surprise primary upset of ten-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley by young upstart Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While I’d suggest that her success was a result of changing district demographics and a well-executed ground campaign more than a seismic shift in the Left’s politics, popular perception is sometimes reality. The success of this movement is being linked, with good reason to young voters. The young are, after all, the ones who are entering the voting ranks most enamored with the siren song of socialism (in whatever loosey-goosey and vague form they choose to consider it). This isn’t new – the history of socialism’s rise is tied to young university students. There’s also quite a bit of truth in the old adage “Any man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart” (lets leave the second half “Any man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head” alone for now).

I’ve written countless deconstructions of socialism in this blog, so today I’ll address a different aspect of the current socialist-youth movement: the “safe space” phenomenon and its offspring (including the disinvitation and shouting-down of guest speakers whose opinions stray from progressive dogma). Countless students today demonstrate that they cannot abide even hearing an opinion with which they disagree, so much so that they often claim physical distress. Their means of avoiding such feelings often involves aggression and censorship, not mere self-relocation, and it bodes ill for the future of their political belief system.

Traditional socialism’s defenders (yes, there are many) lament that the past iterations all gave rise to dictatorships and other forms of totalitarianism, and they argue that these failures are not what “real” socialism is about. Presumably (and as suggested by the rebranding effort), socialism is supposed to be a voluntary “of the people” system, validated by popular vote and collective will, rather than imposed by authoritarians at the top. Apart from the “tyranny of the majority” problem with this (unrestricted democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner), there’s a basic problem in how such a system would function in a politically diverse population when its advocates have no ability to accommodate any dissent.

A college campus can be turned into an opinion-sterile environment with enough noise from the student body and enough spinelessness from the faculty and leadership. Students that disagree have the option of leaving (and indeed, the freedom to leave seems a necessary component of any collectivistic system of organization to preclude its turning dictatorial), but one cannot easily leave a nation (and, as history has shown, socialist nations have typically gone to great lengths to prevent emigration). How do today’s safe-space Democratic Socialists propose to run a nation without resorting to dictatorial censorship if they have meltdowns whenever they hear someone disagree with their worldview?

Progressivism rests on, and indeed lives and dies by, the presumption that the Best-and-Brightest will do a better job at running society than any natural order that evolves out of free interactions and free markets. Those Best-and-Brightest, in order to do so, need to draw information from that society, and that includes hearing things that they currently try to hide from in their safe spaces and echo chambers. And, they need to receive and be open to feedback. Without feedback, having any success will be impossible (try playing a musical instrument with your ears plugged tight), and that feedback will include criticism for things that have gone wrong. Who in his right mind would cede control over a big chunk of his life to someone who screams at the sky and retreats to a safe space if forced to hear a contrary opinion?

Then there’s the anger. No one can hold a candle to the Angry Left when it comes to enduring rage and perpetual misery. Is that the demeanor we want running the nation?

It has been observed that this behavior is classically juvenile, that it is the way of children. Children do grow up to be adults, and they (usually) grow out of the infantilism that includes this sort of behavior. But, children aren’t given a say in how households are run, nor are their desires and tantrums pandered to or given supremacy by responsible parents. It’s only when they show signs of maturity, and that includes the ability to hear something “uncomfortable” without curling up into a fetal position or erupting in rage, that their opinions deserve an ear.

Want to be in charge? Want to dictate the nature of the nation’s governance? Want authority? First, act like you can handle it.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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